Thesis: Alternative Energy in California

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Alternative Energy in California

"The energy crisis in California, the coming global energy crisis," a slogan used by energycrisis.com (2001), illustrates the necessity for alternative energy sources in California and by extension the whole world. Increasing wholesale electricity prices, power shortages during peak demand hours and fiscal destabilization of California's major power utility companies has lead to the current crisis. California and the Earth that provides the human race with so many resources are both beautiful places to live. Those resources however, are not unlimited in supply and will soon be exhausted. The state of California can do a better job by using free, limitless energy sources such as solar power, wind power and hydrogen power.

Solar power is the use of energy from the sun's rays to create energy. Solar energy is captured by solar panels and stored in batteries for later use. It is a renewable and limitless source of energy and with the use of battery storage can be used even on cloudy days.

The main advantages of solar power are cost, ease of installation, and free and unlimited power. The cost of purchasing and installing solar systems has decreased in the recent past. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (2003), a solar system costs 1% of what is cost in the 1970s. Also, some states, such as California, offer incentives to help offset the initial, major cost of solar systems. Solar panels are also becoming smaller and can be installed easily and inconspicuously on roofs or the side of buildings. The sun generates a lot of energy that mainly goes unharnessed currently. According to Sassoon et al. (2009), "The amount of Solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth's non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined." A disadvantage of this type of energy is the usable amount of energy generated. It can take large areas of solar arrays to create usable energy. Also, even with battery back-up power, solar power is best suited to areas with lots of sunlight and is not ideal for areas with overcast weather.

Another alternative energy source is wind power. Wind power is generated by harnessing wind energy. This can be done by creating electricity with a wind turbine or mechanical power with wind mills for example. Most wind energy is generated from high wind speeds therefore in short bursts by wind gusts.

The major advantages of wind power are cost, and unlimited supply. Statistics indicate that wind power costs 60 dollars per megawatt hour to generate electricity whereas coal costs 74-88 dollars per megawatt hour (California Energy Commission, 2007). Also, wind is a renewable energy source. To put it in very simple terms: the wind will blow as long as the sun shines. This is because wind is caused by the uneven heating of the Earth's surface by the sun (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 1998). High initial costs and unsightliness are among the drawbacks to wind power. Initial costs for wind power systems are large. However, a wind power incentive tax credit of 1.9 cents per kilowatt hour can help offset the initial cost. Also, many consider… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Alternative Energy in California.  (2010, May 18).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-energy-california/2201

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"Alternative Energy in California."  18 May 2010.  Web.  18 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-energy-california/2201>.

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"Alternative Energy in California."  Essaytown.com.  May 18, 2010.  Accessed July 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-energy-california/2201.